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Jameson and I stayed in Columbia overnight. The next morning we went to Mr. Friendly's New Southern Cafe for shrimp & grits! Or rather, he got salmon croquettes with his grits, and I got the traditional shrimp :)

It was delicious and creamy and savory. I'm jealous of people who can cook grits like this! The red stuff in the middle is a sort of salsa with sausage in it, it was really good. There were lots of other awesome things on the menu that looked equally delicious. If you're ever in Columbia stop in here!

After our meal we went to 2nd and Charles. If you are into thrift stores, pawn shops, used electronics stores, or used book and gaming stores, this is a great place for you! I could have spent hours digging through all the piles of lightly used books and games. There was even a section full of 70s-80s toys! The nostalgia!

Somewhere in there we got word that the train was spotted, so we started driving to Charlotte. I had come down with another cold and was still fighting it off, and didn't feel good, so I'm afraid I wasn't much of a travel companion. Still, it was a short trip and the train yard was easy to find. I spent that night and the next day resting, trying to kill this cold off.

Opening day was good, one show, nothing new. Thursday was a one-show day too. I spent it cleaning and cooking and doing laundry. Friday was a split. I received a box in the mail from my sister Kayle, full of goodies like dried mango, vintage wafer candy, and a bacon ganache bar. Thank you sis!!!

After the first show, I had a dress fitting with Rebecca (wardrobe) for a bridesmaid's dress for my sister's wedding in April. Fortunately the dress only needs an inch off the bottom, yay! Then I went to get my hair cut at Salon of Evidence only a few blocks from the arena. Charles is the main stylist and he was awesome.

After that, I had two hours to kill! The weather was nice so I wandered around for a bit, googling coffee shops in the hopes of finding somewhere to chill. I stumbled upon 7th St. Public Market. Perfect!!

(photo courtesy clture.com)

After looking around a bit (and mentally pegging the things I wanted to buy) I sat down at the coffee counter and ordered a matcha tea. It came out looking beautiful and tasting exquisite. Lovely afternoon treat!

When my drink was gone and I had killed an hour on the internet, I walked back around the market and picked out a few things that are hard to come by. Duck eggs! Sourwood honey! Locally-made wheat bread! I can't wait to try them all!!

Back at the arena, the second show went well :)

The weekend was a six pack. It seemed like a lot of people were pretty tired on Saturday...self included. I think I gave Bill (trumpet) my cold. Sorry Bill. Sunday was a little rough. I admit I was tired and cranky. My day was much improved when a young man named Mack asked if he could meet me after the middle show (he's a trombone player). He and his mom came to the bandstand for a photo and to check out the workspace. I really enjoyed meeting them and spending a little time answering questions about the show and how the band works. They reminded me that even when I'm having a bad day, there's an arena full of people looking to enjoy themselves. Whether they're trying to forget about a bad day at work, or have saved their money to treat their kids, or were just bored and decided to show up...they're here to see us, and enjoy what they see. I'm grateful that Mack and his mom reminded me of this :)

Now we're finishing up the last show of the day. Jameson and I will be staying in Charlotte overnight, then driving to Raleigh the next day when the train gets close.

Other stuff:

One of the duck eggs I bought as compared to a large chicken egg. I've never eaten duck eggs so the size difference is interesting to me :P

Nikki's beautiful photo of Charlotte from the train yard.

Over on the Blue Unit it was Johnathan Lee Iverson's birthday, and he got pied. BIG TIME.

(video courtesy Gabe S.)

Our condolences go out to everyone at the Center for Elephant Conservation, where baby elephant Mike passed away this weekend from EEHV. Mike was a very energetic, social little guy. I loved watching video clips of him on the CEC's website. Rest in peace little guy.